I've got my head back in the game as well as my legs. Allow me to explain what I mean, as well as the lack of actual content here at hikernation.net in the past month.
The CDT, for a variety of reasons, was (is) kicking my butt. The late season snows here in Colorado, coupled with a relatively cool Spring, has led to some seriously difficult hiking conditions. I (and fellow hikers Analog and Wantsum) chose to take a good deal of time off and see if we could simply allow the snow to melt out. It worked.
However, in doing so, their were a few side effects. Physically, my body, specifically my feet, reverted to early trail conditions. That is, I began getting blisters and other such pains that I typically do not experience after the first month of hiking. The biggest issue involved my mental state and motivation. We would hike four or five days, and then take three off. During these off days we saw live music, mingled with locals, drank beer, ate great food, (spent too much money), and had a good time. However, such a schedule threw me into a strange cycle of hiking only to make it to the next town, as opposed to hiking for the sake of hiking.
I contemplated quitting this hike on many occasions throughout the last month.
Simply put, I don't believe the Continental Divide Trail is designed to be thru-hiked.
Yes, I understand, the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail were not "designed" to be thru-hiked either. In fact, the concept of hiking either of these trails in their entirety in a single season left those involved with the projects stunned. However, they are both completed trails and the weather windows on each of them is much more forgiving that here on the Continental Divide.
The Continental Divide Trail leaves would be thru-hikers with a potentially brutal and variable weather window as well as a variety of unpleasant route choices.
Having a late snow season here in Colorado has been tough. And it has also set most of us hikers behind our intended schedules. If things play out I still believe this trail can be finished this season -- if, we don't also get slammed with early snow in northern Montana. Secondly, the trail design itself can be tedious, physically and mentally. At times you will be tasked with endless road-walks, sometimes on forest roads, but often on the side of busy highways. On other times the "trail" will take the concept of hiking the divide very literally and put you on a high ridge line, without any actual trail, for days on end without barely dropping below treeline. The views may be spectacular, both to the east and west as you straddle the divide, but it leaves a hiker with no shelter or camp options within easy access. Add in the daily thunder storms and nightly rains, and it becomes a stress inducing route, often forcing us to dive down to lower elevation to avoid lightning strikes in the afternoon and to ensure safe camping at night (only then to again climb back up to elevation at a safer time to continue forward movement). It has become nearly impossible to estimate daily mileage and therefor plan food and logistics accordingly. Not only is the Continental Divide Trail difficult for us bipeds, but it's tough living for everyone. The amount of dead animals / animal remains we encounter on a daily basis is remarkable!
It's for these reasons, that I have been somewhat tight lipped concerning the progress of my trip.
It has been difficult for me to write about this hike and this trail without being certain as to how long I would continue along it.
I am glad to say that in the past ten days, things have been going much more smoothly. We are now in Steamboat Springs, CO, headed down out of the high elevations and into Wyoming. I've been on trail for two and a half months now, and my head is back in the game, ready for whatever may be next. With Colorado nearly behind us things should continue forward in a relatively smoother manner.
Have I mentioned though, it has been beautiful!